I’m not, by any means, a person who considers myself especially athletic. I don’t live an incredibly sedentary life, but it’s safe to say that my trips to the gym are far more infrequent than my doctor would necessarily like.
So when I see a device like the iHeart Internal Age heart rate monitor, my first instinct is to assume that it’s not for people like me. It’s probably for athletic people — people who exercise and who need to know information like their average heart rate or blood oxygen level or their aortic pulse wave velocity. Or, maybe it’s for individuals with heart conditions that require constant monitoring. Or, maybe it’s for older people who are just looking for a way to accurately measure their heart rate, so they can track their health.
In the time that I’ve had the iHeart, however, I’ve come to the undeniable conclusion that it’s not for me.
That being said, I’m also not really quite sure who it’s really for.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose…right?
The actual iHeart device is a tiny, wireless heart rate monitor. It fits comfortable around any finger, and it isn’t too tight or snug. It’s powered by two AAA batteries, and its LED screen provides heart rate and blood oxygen level information, without crowding users with too much data.
The iHeart is also not a particularly attractive device. It reminds me quite a bit of those fake medical toys at the dollar store, with the single caveat being that the iHeart costs $195 USD, plus the cost of a monthly subscription if you opt in for the iHeart Pro app. Not to mention the cost of a compatible iOS device, because the iHeart app isn’t available on Android quite yet.
That’s right: the iHeart is a ‘Connected device,’ meaning that it comes with an accompanying app. It’s this app that justifies the cost of the device. Connecting the device to an iPhone is really as easy as making sure that Bluetooth is active on the phone. Additionally, in contrast to the device itself, the iOS app is thankfully modern.
The pro version of the app — available exclusively to subscribers — lets users send their data to Vitalsines, the company behind the iHeart, for analysis. Vitalsines then responds with recommendations on how users can adapt their workouts and lifestyles to achieve better results.
How can you mend a broken iHeart?
The more you use the iHeart, the more information it provides. Once again, however, I bring up the issue of utility.
The device provides measures of internal vs. actual age, aortic pulse wave velocity, blood oxygen level, and average heart rate — all of which are undeniably important to know. In fact, aortic pulse wave velocity is a measure of how quickly arteries carry blood away from the heart.
Aortic pulse wave velocity is an important measure of arterial stiffness, and can be used to determine if a patient is at risk of stroke.
However, were I at risk of having a stroke, I’m not quite sure I’d want to put my faith in a device like the iHeart. Especially since iHeart quite clearly states that the device is not intended to be used as a medical tool.
The fact of the matter is that the iHeart isn’t a toy. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun passing it around the office to see who had the best heart rate and lowest internal age — a value the device purportedly verifies through its analysis. But the device’s prohibitive cost, coupled with the fact that the full potential of the iOS app is only really unlocked with a monthly subscription, compounded by the fact that the iHeart is by no means a meaningful replacement for actual medical attention makes the whole package difficult to recommend.